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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Jack Straw loses power

Jack Straw loses power

The Times Law 100 2009

Who are Britain's most powerful lawyers? The debate this year was lengthy and sometimes fiery, but here are our picks

3. Jack Straw, as Lord Chancellor and first Secretary of State for Justice, still wields huge power at the pinnacle of the justice system. Policy on courts, legal aid, prisons and the Probation Service, sentencing, the criminal law and constitutional affairs all come under his patch. He also carries much weight in government, and at points of crisis is regularly named as likely caretaker leader were Gordon Brown to go. He is overseeing cuts across the justice system of £1,070 million over three years, including £200 million from the legal aid budget; and has opened up the family courts to the media. Skilful and experienced, he is now the “father” of the Cabinet (he is 63 in August); he has been both Home and Foreign Secretary as well as Leader of the Commons. He went to Leeds University and was active in student politics, famously serving as president of the National Union of Students from 1969 to 1971. A year later he was called to the Bar but that career was shortlived. He is the first full-blooded politician to be Lord Chancellor. He has paradoxically had a much better working relationship with the judges than his career-barrister predecessor, Lord Falconer of Thoroton.

Labour leadership contest: Runners and riders

Gordon Brown has stood down as prime minister and Labour leader. Here are some of the possible contenders to succeed him.


Labour's great survivor has not been mentioned much in the speculation over who will replace Gordon Brown, unlike previous occasions when the destination of the party leadership seemed uncertain.

Mr Straw has been home secretary, foreign secretary, Commons leader and is now justice secretary. No one at Westminster can rival the breadth and length of his service.

He also managed Mr Brown and Tony Blair's leadership campaigns, making him better versed in the art of charming and persuading Labour MPs than most.

On the other hand, he has been around a long time and would surely be only a short-term choice, with many in the Labour Party looking to rebuild for the longer term.

Just when he thought it could not get any worse.

See you in court Jack. Take it from me you are not alright.

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